According to this story on Wired.com, Jorn Barger coined the term “web log” 10 years ago today to “describe the daily list of links that “logged” his travels across the web.” Barger provides some tips, dating back to what he calls the “Golden Age of Web Logs” (1998-1999), for new bloggers:
- A true weblog is a log of all the URLs you want to save or share. (So del.icio.us is actually better for blogging than blogger.com.)
- You can certainly include links to your original thoughts, posted elsewhere … but if you have more original posts than links, you probably need to learn some humility.
- If you spend a little time searching before you post, you can probably find your idea well articulated elsewhere already.
- Being truly yourself is always hipper than suppressing a link just because it’s not trendy enough. Your readers need to get to know you.
- You can always improve on the author’s own page title, when describing a link. (At least make sure your description is full enough that readers will recognize any pages they’ve already visited, without having to visit them again.)
- Always include some adjective describing your own reaction to the linked page (great, useful, imaginative, clever, etc.)
- Credit the source that led you to it, so your readers have the option of “moving upstream.”
- Warn about “gotchas” — weird formatting, multipage stories, extra-long files, etc. Don’t camouflage the main link among unneeded (or poorly labeled) auxiliary links.
- Pick some favorite authors or celebrities and create a Google News feed that tracks new mentions of them, so other fans can follow them via your weblog.
- Re-post your favorite links from time to time, for people who missed them the first time.
This is an interesting list, especially for new bloggers. Very few blogs today are simply lists of links to other sites; in fact, most blogs are explicitly setup for the authors to share their original thoughts, sometimes inspired by the writing of others but just as often based on events of daily life, their PhD research, etc. Sites like del.icio.us (mentioned in Barger’s list) provide the function that he seems to want to have blogs perform, and they are popular for just that reason.
That’s not to say that the list is not without merit. Tips 4-9 are good tips for all bloggers, new and old, independent of what they blog or how they blog it.
While the ways people use ‘blogs today may not really fit with what the word literally means, it’s not the first time a concept or a word has evolved beyond its literal meaning, or the use of a tool has evolved beyond its original use.
It certainly won’t be the last.